Mark Mulder announced his retirement earlier this week without much fanfare, making official what has been assumed since he sat out all of last season following disastrous stints with the Cardinals in 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Mulder won 16 games with a 3.64 ERA as a 27-year-old in 2005, but then injuries hit and he won just six more games while posting a 7.73 ERA in 106 innings and was finished at age 30.
Because of how poorly and prematurely Mulder’s career ended it’s easy to forget just how good he was before all the health problems. Looking at all left-handed pitchers since the mound was lowered in 1969, he ranks tied for sixth with 97 wins through the age of 27:
THROUGH AGE 27 W Vida Blue 124 F. Valenzuela 118 CC Sabathia 117 Don Gullet 109 Frank Tanana 106 MARK MULDER 97 Mark Buehrle 97 Tom Glavine 95 Jerry Reuss 95 Ross Grimsley 87
Interestingly, his former “Big Three” rotation-mate Barry Zito ranks 11th with 85 wins through age 27.
Decades from now when people stumble across Mulder’s stats and see just 103 wins they probably won’t give him much thought, but he was one of the most successful early career lefties in baseball history and would probably be a 31-year-old with around 175 wins right now if not for the injuries.